Belgian defence minister wants to buy Patriot missiles

Belgian defence minister Steven Vandeput has unveiled plans for Belgium to acquire the Patriot missile system, though the government still needs to back the idea. The missiles can be used to down enemy ballistic missiles targeting our country.

Mr Vandeput made his announcement in the parliamentary defence select committee where he was giving details of his strategic defence plan.

Mr Vandeput believes the acquisition could be very important for Belgium strategically and politically. The system would put Belgium on a par with the Netherlands, Germany and the US.

The weapon can be deployed in Belgium but also at the benefit of our allies, e.g. on the Turkish-Syrian border. At present there is a shortage of such systems, but in the future they will be much needed.

A Patriot battery with six launch installations costs around 588 million euros. The battery would be manned by 172 specialised staff making it possible to keep the weapon system operational for a year.

The purchase of the missile system will have an impact on the army budget that will see its share of defence spending till 2030 fall by nearly 600 million euros.

For many years now NATO, of which Belgium is a member, has been developing a missile defence system to protect the population of NATO countries from long distance missiles. NATO is aware of 30 countries that possess or will soon possess ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads or others weapons of mass destruction.